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St. Cloud Elementary Students Meet Dance Trailblazer and Author Jennifer Jones

WEST ORANGE, NJ - Long-time West Orange resident, dance trailblazer, and now children's author Jennifer Jones visited St. Cloud Elementary School on Dec. 8 to meet with students and share her new book "On the Line: My Story of Becoming the First African-American Rockette."

Born in Newark in 1967 and raised in Randolph, Jones began dancing at the age of 10. She was encouraged by friends and family to audition for the Rockettes, though at the time there were no African-American dancers on the line. It wasn't until 1988 that Jones was hired and made her first appearance as a Rockette during the Superbowl halftime show.

Her career with the Rockettes spanned fifteen years. She danced on Broadway in the revival of "42nd Street," garnering a Tony as one of three black dancers in the production, and performed on television and around the country.

In 2018, Jones was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer. After aggressive treatment, she was declared cancer-free in 2019, and now, at 56, remains healthy.

On October 31, 2023, Jones released her first children's book, "On the Line: My Story of Becoming the First African-American Rockette." She visited St. Cloud as the first stop on a publicity tour for the book.

"On the Line" tells the story of Jones' road to the Rockettes. The Amazon press release describes the book:

"Though this tale explores painful emotions, its focus on Jennifer’s personal experience and the pleasure she found in dance make it an absolute delight."

Sharing the history books with other groundbreaking black women like Misty Copeland and Mae Jemison, Jones was told she had no future as a Rockette because of the color of her skin. While dancing always made her feel free, it took the support of her family, to help her prove that anything is possible when you believe. Watercolor illustrations were drawn by artist Robert Paul, Jr. 

During her visit with St. Cloud students, Jones read her book, answered questions, and posed for photos. Her visit was made possible by the Cultural Arts Committee of the St. Cloud PTA.

Thanks to PTA parent Ryan Stanley for the photo and information for the article. The book can be purchased on Amazon HERE.

Jennifer Jones

Jennifer Jones (rear) with St. Cloud students.




Cynthia Cumming and Ryan Stanley
Dec. 8, 2023